Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 25: 2015

Remember when everyone said the world was going to end in 2012? Ha.

This week was a good one! Christmas was really fun, we got to go to a lot of members' houses for meals and to hang out a little bit (missionary style of course) and I got to skype home, which, for those of you who weren't there, was awesome. It was really good to talk to you all! I miss you.

And then Elizabeth got married on Saturday. I thought about it all day long. I'm sad I missed the wedding and everything else, but it sounds like it went well and was beautiful. 

This week was a little hard (it's hard when you get really trunky) but the Lord is blessing us more than we deserve. Saturday night we went to a party for the Spanish branch and Portuguese members, and it was fun! PLUS we had 3 potential investigators go, plus a really awesome less active named Marli. THEN yesterday we had a lesson with some potentials, Denise and Paulo, and they're new investigators! They're both really interested in the gospel and we actually saw Denise today at the grocery store and she told us she's reading and praying! The word of wisdom and law of chastity will need to be taught very soon... but it will go well, I just know it. PLUS we had another lesson with a potential named Milton, and he's a new investigator now too! With him, we had 2 members come with us, and they basically taught him the restoration all themselves. Milton has a lot of really great questions and is really willing to try it out. We extended a baptismal date to him, but he wants to prepare more, so he didn't accept. Yet. Then on Saturday we'll have another lesson with Milton plus one with another potential, Jose, who is a member's brother.

And Milton and Jose came to church yesterday. So.

The Lord is really blessing us. Sister Lima and I have been weirdly just SO TIRED but we try to go to bed a little bit early, so we're doing okay. I know that the last couple of days, the Lord has had to help me continue on a little bit, but I honestly didn't really notice until yesterday. I really do know that the Lord is helping us in every single little part of this work and that without Him, we would truly be nothing. I am so grateful for Him and everything that He has done and is doing for us right now. I honestly would be so lost without His help.

Gabbi didn't get confirmed yesterday because she was really sick and couldn't go to church. That ended our plans to take her to the temple on Tuesday (literally everything was so ready), but it's totally okay. I think in the end it works out better this way. We forgot she would have needed a membership record like NOW and there are just a few other things that need to be taken care of before she goes to the temple. We'll get her there soon though :)

Christmas and Christmas Eve were really great. The members here are so kind to us. So kind in fact, that we have more chocolate than I've ever had in my whole entire life at any one time. We're slowly working through it all, but I still think it will take until at least Valentine's Day to finish.

And this week is the new year! crazy. 2014 has been a wonderful year, and I know that I've learned so much already. I have only around another year left on the mission, so I'm trying to work my hardest as I'm here on the Lord's errand. I hope all of you have a wonderful new year! Enjoy staying up until 12. Sister Lima and I have decided to go to bed very early that day--we need to be home by 6 or so, so we'll be in bed at 8, thank you very much. I find it slightly ironic that we'll be in bed the earliest on New Year's Eve, but so be it. Thus is the life of a missionary. And what a good life it it.

I also finished reading the Book of Mormon and marking the tender mercies of the Lord this week! Each time I pray to ask if the Book of Mormon is true, I always get this "duh, you already know this" kind of a feeling. But I think this time it was cool, because it spiked my desire to share the Book of Mormon and to use it a lot more as we teach. Sometimes it's hard to do that, but I know that people really can receive answers to their prayers and ultimately a testimony through the Book of Mormon. I KNOW that it's true, and I promise that if you read it, you will feel God's love for you and you will gain a testimony that it is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I love this gospel so much, and I love my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They are so good to me. Like Moroni, I say I "will not deny the Christ". (Moroni 1:3). Please go read Moroni 10:32-33. I really love those verses, and I know that it is only through Christ that we can become perfect and sanctified. 

I love the work. I miss all of you back home so much, but I know I'm right where the Lord wants me to be. I know He has a plan specifically for each of you, so I hope you pray to Him and ask Him just what He would have you do. He'll answer you, I promise.

Have a happy new year!



Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 24: FELIZ NATAL A TODO O MUNDO E A TODO O MUNDO UMA BOA NOITE!

Hello family and friends! 

Well honestly, I get to talk to you on Christmas, so this email will be a little short. Here are some highlights of the week:

Lehi Sheet Metal Corp. (located in Westboro, Mass.): For all of your gold/brass plate needs!

We really saw a truck that said that. Not the gold/brass plates part, but the Lehi part and it really was from Westboro. We were too slow to take a picture. Sad day.

We got badly rejected yesterday. It was probably the worst rejection I've had yet. Long story short, we were leaving the door of a lady and Sister Lima gave her a He is the Gift card and said "This is a video about Christ and Christmas!" and the lady said "You can have it back. I don't believe in that--" and she cursed at us, then said "I'm Catholic." And she slammed the door. 

So yeah, that was fun. (But I'm pretty sure Catholics believe in Christ and Christmas. I think the lady was just anti-Mormon. Her loss, the gospel is great!)

But we were talking about it for a few minutes after, and Sister Lima made a wonderful point. When we get rejected badly (or at all), we understand a little more of what the Savior felt. There are so many people that rejected and still reject Him, and more that will in the future. Just like that, as missionaries, we experience some of the same things, though not quite on the same level. And whenever we have experiences like that where people essentially make fun of our beliefs, I know that my testimony is strong and that nothing anyone can say will change that. 

And I know that Christ is my Savior and my Redeemer. He is my personal Savior, and He is yours too. At this time of Christmas, I am especially excited to talk to my family and receive gifts and things (thanks mom, dad, G&G O and K, and Santa! And Alyssa soon haha), but I have really enjoyed the opportunity to be a missionary this Christmas. We have shared a lot of really wonderful Christmas messages, all centered around Christ. He IS the Gift, and because of Him we are able to have this wonderful gospel and enjoy the blessings that come from it. 

The Christmas Conference this past week was awesome too! We did a session in the temple, then had lunch at Chipotle (always good), then had a devotional/fireside with President and sister Packard. The musical fireside was amazing--there are some really talented missionaries in our mission who played piano, sang, etc. So good. 

Then the skits. Oh, those were good. Each zone creates one, and Boston west was, well, the best. We did a parody on the He is the Gift video about Wings (West Is Never Gonna Stop). I'll try to get that to you soon, it's really my favorite thing ever. And pictures and packages and friends and Sister Packard rapping. It was a really great day.

Also, we went to Chick-fil-a. They have one in Westboro. It was glorious. 

I love you all! Sorry this letter was short, but I'll talk to you on Christmas. :) 

Have a merry Christmas and a wonderful week! Read 3 Nephi 1 and Alma 7:10-13. :)




Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 23: "Oh, we don't support latter-day saints."

How do you respond to that?

(We were trying to call a less-active member, but the number was wrong. When we introduced ourselves, the man on the phone told us that. I was just like "uhhhhh...... well I think we have the wrong number, bye!")

I apologize that this letter will be short. I keep getting worse and worse each week, plus today we have Zone P-day, so I'm not sure how much time I'll have anyways. But heeeeeere we go!

A few items of business:
-Is Jackson in the He is the Gift video? I don't think it's him, but I just want to make sure. You know what I'm talking about.
-We have been cold enough here in the church where we've literally turned the oven on and opened it up to get warm. Sorry, mom, it was just too cold. And we have no idea where the heater is, so we resort to the classics.

So here in good ole Mass it's really beginning to look a lot like Christmas. It snowed on Thursday and started to stick, but it has melted since then... sad. We're really hoping for a white Christmas, and we think it could still happen. Also, Sister Lima and I really enjoy rocking out to some good ole Christmas hymns as we drive around 50 miles a day. I'm trying to upload a video we took of us and our favorite song onto dropbox, so be excited for that.

Okay, I'll try to do a quick day-by-day update.

Monday.
We had FHE with a less active Portuguese member, Patricia, and her son, and she promised she'll always do FHE because of it! That was cool. I think she's coming back into activity :)

Tuesday.
In our Book of Mormon WebEx with President, we read Jacob 4. Who knew that was a really important chapter about the Atonement? Not me. Go read it! I really really like it now.
We had a lovely chat with this 82 year old man who is a potential. He's really funny and didn't appreciate that we had to keep his door open since we didn't have a woman with us. But oh, that was a funny conversation.
We also visited an active Po family and a less active one. How do you help a man and his family that know exactly what they should be doing (i.e. going to church), but who don't? I really don't know what to do. They just need to come to church! All the time! I think we need to focus on the scriptures with them. Thoughts? I really love this family (they did buy us a pizza, so that was really cool of them), but they just don't ACT! Everyone does have their agency, though.

Wednesday.
We do service at a food pantry where we make bags of food to be handed out. It's kind of like a game--see how many cans you can hold at one time, then how you can fit them all into 2 bags. It's weirdly right up my alley.
We had dinner with the Kostetskys, the family with the autistic twin boys. Actually, it was just the mom really and two of her friends (who just so happen to be a member and less active member! Not coincidence.), and it was really fun. Have I told you how much I like Brazilian food? A lot. It's delicious. Plus we have had SO MANY member dinners, and I think we pretty much have one every day for the rest of the month. I do like eating other people's food, then sharing the gospel with them :)
Sis. Kostetsky still needs more help to come to church. She's not super thrilled about the idea still.

Thursday
Snow and weekly planning! It was a really good and really long weekly planning session. Then we had dinner at an old Brazilian couples' house. The thing about Brazilians is they make really delicious food, then expect you to eat literally all of it. I may eat all the time, but I don't eat a whole pan-full of food! They're a really funny couple though. They're pretty much Sister Lima's grandparents, so they're pretty fun.

Friday.
We had a really fun Zone meeting and made some goals and stuff.
We taught Gabbi, our baptismal date, about the scriptures, tithing, and fasting! She's really awesome and so ready. Also, the YW who came with us, Talitha, is amazing too. I love her a lot, and she told me she added me on facebook, so that's weird. haha. But she's awesome.
We also had a dinner with Nilva, another Po member who we helped with some family history. Then we taught the Greips, a couple--he's less active, she's not a member--who really aren't all that interested in learning from the missionaries. But we had a lovely talk about Disneyland that I was able to transition smoothly into showing them the He is the Gift video. I'm pretty sure it was all the Spirit, but I'm still pretty proud of it.

Saturday.
I really love Correlation here. Bro MacLean, our ward mission leader, is the best.
We decided we need to visit all of the members in the ward, so we're slowly working our way through! We saw the Ackernechts, a family who just had their second kid, and the Blakes, who have their youngest kid on a mission. They're all my new favorite people.
We also listened to a Christmas piano recital, and we have a new potential family because of it! He could possibly be the Portuguese group leader! We're so excited to teach them.

Sunday.
We got to go to Laura's baptism in Brockton! Here's what I wrote to President about it:
Yesterday we had the opportunity to go back to Brockton for a baptism of Laura, a woman that I taught for about 3 months in Brockton. Watching her get baptized was easily one of the very most joyful experiences of my whole life. She is so faithful and wanted to be baptized so badly, and she's been ready for a while. The timing just needed to be right. And yesterday, she was baptized! All of that, as well as seeing the Brockton members made me realize that I have learned a few things about Christlike love while being on my mission. I may not love people quite like Christ does yet (I have a long ways to go still), but I certainly love a lot of people a lot. I want the best for them, and I'm grateful that I can share the gospel with them, since that DEFINITELY is the best thing for them! Love only expands for people the more people you know.
It was just about the best day ever. I love the people and missionaries there so much, and it was great to go visit. I love them soooo much. And I'm so happy for Laura! She's been waiting so long, and now she's finally baptized :)

We visited the Silvas' son who is less active and his non-member wife and their MOST ADORABLE 2-YEAR OLD GIRL EVER. That was fun.
Lastly, we had dinner at the Merediths' house. She's the RS president, and the dinner was much like home. The two littlest girls, 8 and 4, share a birthday on the 14th, so our dinner was pizza rolls and smiley fries. It was pretty great. The Merediths are basically my favorite (just like everyone else, but seriously. I love them.). And S. Meredith's mom totally could have been the nurse that took care of me when I was born--she was the lactation specialist at Payson Hospital in 95. Go figure.

And today!

Wow, that ended up being really long. Sorry. But I know that this Church is true. I know that being a missionary is the best thing ever. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and I'm so glad I have the opportunity to share it with everyone here! 

Merry Christmas! Keep sharing christmas.mormon.org please, it's wonderful. And always be inviting others to come unto Christ.

I love you all so much!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 22: FramBoro

Aren't we so excited for Christmas?

Yes, yes we are.

Well friends and family, I can tell you that Marlborough is literally the very opposite of Brockton. I love both places so so so much, but here feels a little more like home does. so that's nice :)

Tuesday sister Lowenthal and I said goodbye to a lot of people. It was sad to say goodbye, but it is really good to know that I love so many more people now. Unfortunately, Laura wasn't home or something, so I still don't have a picture with her, but I'm doing everything I can so we can go to her baptism that's happening on Sunday! I'll definitely have pictures if I do that. :)

Wednesday. Oh yes, let me tell you what happened on wednesday.

We had some studies and we packed. As we were getting ready to go run errands and some other last minute things, the elders knocked on our door and told us that as they were walking into the elevator of our apartment building, one of them tried to put the keys to the car in his pocket but missed. And the keys fell in that one exact place they shouldn't:

in that gap between the floor and the elevator. (it's bigger than you think!)

So. Their keys had fallen down the elevator shaft. All the way to the bottom. Sis. Lowenthal and I checked on the bottom floor--we looked between the gap with flashlights and saw the keys! They were about 5 feet away from us down the elevator shaft. So we came up with a plan--the maintenance guy and office lady weren't home, so we had to do something else. We went to our apartment and put 2 wire hangers together to create a long hook, which we subsequently brought down to the basement to try to reach the keys. Sister Goncalves, of course, has it on video. I'm working on getting that from her. :)

And you know what happened? It took a few minutes, but we got the keys! I pulled them right up from that elevator shaft, and we took them to the Elders and they have never been happier with us. You really must see the video, it's hilarious. I think this is a highlight of my mission so far, definitely a mission story.

That night we went to PF Changs for dinner and then off to transfer meeting! A lot of missionaries went home this transfer, and only a few came in. BUT guess who I saw??? SISTER ASAY! She's training this transfer and I ran into her and we took a picture! It's on dropbox, so you all should go find it and put it on Facebook or whatever else you crazy kids do these days (I'm starting to realize I really have no idea what's happening in the world).
Rachel and Sister Asay went to preschool together many moons ago!


Then Sister Lima, my new companion!, and I drove to Westborough Massachusetts, where we have our very own apartment (they took the English sisters out, so it's just us and some elders here in the area), complete with our own bathrooms, our own walk-in closets, and 4 beds. Really, it's the size you need for 4 sisters but it's just 2 of us.

Thursday! And the rest of the days!

Sister Lima and I get along splendidly. Actually, Sister Lima is the Brazilian version of Sister Knutti. We like the same things, we think the same things, we both need to learn a language, and I only came out on the mission (field, not counting the MTC) 3 weeks before her. It's just the two of us for miles (for sisters, we work with the elders here a lot), and I'm so glad that we're good friends already. We work just in Marlborough, not Framingham (there are english elders over them, plus Spanish elders over the branch there too), but now we work with English AND Portuguese! So that's pretty exciting. The ward here is a lot like the one back home, so that's a lot of fun. And the Portuguese here is easier, because the people are all Brazilian and it's not kriolo! But I almost speak kriolo (the little bit that I know), and then I have to stop myself haha.

There aren't nearly as many investigators here, but we're working on it! We do a LOT of work with less-actives, which is pretty neat. Different work, but definitely just as important. It's fun.

Oh yeah, and the Portuguese here means there is a little baby almost-group here. President Packard wants us to create a group, like the official church group. We can do it! :)

Thursday was weekly planning and starting to get to know some people, Friday we had district meeting and more stop-bys. THEN we had the ward Christmas party! That was really fun, and cool since it was a lot like how ours back home is. No Santa, but they put on a little lovely Christmas-spirit type skit. And free food for the missionaries... I mean everyone, so that was fun. We helped set up, and it looked really good. I forgot to take a picture though. Sorry. I met a lot of people that day, so that went well!

Saturday morning we had correlation, and our ward mission leader is really really cool. (he works for Google, if that interests you, dad. He majored in Computer science recently at BYU) This ward is so great! Basically all of saturday was stop-bys and things to get to know people. 

Sunday. Was. definitely the easiest sunday I've had my entire time in the mission field. In Brockton, the missionaries run church. Here, we just had to teach the portuguese relief society. That's as crazy as it got. Hallelujah! I love Brockton, but yesterday was much more restful. We did go to the Spanish sacrament meeting so that I could play the piano for them (stay in piano kids, you seriously will find so many opportunities to use it on your mission!)

After some more stopbys and a lesson with our two investigators (Gabbi and Joame, a girl and her mom--Gabbi will be baptized the 21st!) that went SUPER WELL, we watched the Christmas Devotional with the Bentos, some of the Portuguese members. It was so good. We did watch it in English, because this family knows english very well. That was very good, you all should watch it!

And today was Pday and it was glorious. We bought Christmas decorations so we have a little for our apartment now :) And we played some soccer with the elders and emailed and now here we are. Sorry it's a little later today. But you got some good stories, seriously!

We are in full-blown-out Christmas season, and it's really glorious. I love it. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ so much and I am so grateful that He was born so many years ago so that He could perform the Atonement and we have the chance to become perfect and return to live with God again. Please do watch christmas.mormon.org and share it with everyone! The message of Christmas is that Christ came to save us, and we have so many blessings for being in His true church on earth today. I know that this Church is true, and I know our Savior lives. It is through Him that we can find the comfort, peace, and joy we all desire in life.

I love you all and hope you have another great week of this amazing Christmas season. Thank you for all of your support and love that you show me--even if I am terrible at sending a letter back or an email, know that I am so so grateful for everything that I receive, including letters, emails, prayers, love, and everything else. I miss you all and hope everything is going well!


Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 21: A November to Remember

First:

I was right! I'm being transferred to Framingham/Marlborough and I'll be companions with Sister Lima, who came to the mission 3 weeks after I did! There are a lot of Brazilians there, so no more kriolo for me for a while. And we help the Spanish elders there, so I may or may not go to the Spanish branch and have to learn Spanish. Whatever the Lord wants me to do, I'll do! I'm excited. I've only heard good things about Framingham. We cover 2 wards, the Portuguese almost-group, and we help with the Spanish branch, so we have 8 hours of church on Sunday! It'll be good though. 

Second:

Our mission had a goal to get 70 baptisms in the month of November, and we worked very hard to reach the goal, including sacrificing things, praying for over 100 baptismal date names weekly, praying for the goal in every prayer, and other things. Last week we had 63 baptisms. And now, finally, the final number of baptisms is.... ONE HUNDRED. I'm totally serious. We had EXACTLY ONE HUNDRED baptisms this month. That's 41 more than we've EVER had in the mission in one month. 

Do you realize how much the Lord has blessed us? SO MUCH!! Can you believe it? You should, because it's totally true. Our sacrifices and work were only part of it, and almost nothing at all. All of this was due to the Lord. He is the one that made all of this possible. It was up to our faith, because He has been ready for a long time. We just needed to do our part and He was willing to work miracles. And let me tell you, there were some serious miracles that happened. I can't even remember exactly all the stories, but just know that there were so many miracles (think of a girl deciding to be baptized at 10pm the night before her mom left for Peru. Those kinds of miracles.). It's amazing. I love being a part of the Massachusetts Boston Mission and being a missionary for the Lord. The work of the Lord in spreading the gospel is amazing and wonderful and one of the absolute most rewarding things anyone could ever do. 

So technically Sister Lowenthal and I are closing an area, because there won't be sisters coming in to Brockton. I'm going to Fram/Marl and she's going to Dorchester. Elder Soller will go with her too, and Elder Rodrigues (from my MTC district!) will come here to Brockton. The good thing is I really trust Sisters Carone and Goncalves to help our people here. They can do it. They're amazing sisters and I've really enjoyed the chance I've had to work with them. I know I'll see them again :) 

Brockton is amazing and I'll miss it so much but I'm ready for the new experiences Framingham and Marlborough will bring! I will miss the people here so much. I have a ton of pictures on dropbox, so take a look. I'm trying to label them with the name of the people in the pictures so you know who they all are. 

Oh yeah, Thanksgiving. It was fun! We went to Niquinha's house, and it was packed. For hours after helping a little but before eating, we played card games with Elder Friebe and Soller, since the family didn't have anything else they wanted to help with. It was fun! Long day, but good. And the food was delicious--more Cape Verdean than American, but that's okay! I missed my rolls and cranberry sauce, but we're having those tomorrow at the Millers' house (senior couple in Brockton). I've got a picture of that too. Then for the rest of the day (after dinner at 3pm) we did weekly planning! Good stuff.

And we taught people and walked and it snowed on Thanksgiving but now it's a warm day and tomorrow will be goodbyes and pictures and Wednesday is Transfer meeting! Basically that's all that happened. Fabiana and Tracy and Laura were so sad when we told them we were leaving, plus other members too. AnaPaula and Beizinha were so mad. I have pictures with them. :) I love them all so much. The sisters will take good care of them, I know it.

Well family and friends, I hope you enjoy the beginning of the Christmas season. It is, of course, the most wonderful time of the year. (I'll have to send you a picture of my new decorated planner next week, it's pretty great.) We're listening to music again, and you know it's Christmas music! I love you all so much AND GO TO THIS WEBSITE: christmas.mormon.org and watch the video and SHARE IT! Please do it. Now. Then go back and watch Because of Him. It flows beautifully :)

That's all, folks!


4 Sisters

Thanksgiving Feast

With the Hatianaries